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Hisham al-Bustani’s ‘Apocalypse Now’

The literary magazine CutBank, launched in 1973, is a literary magazine produced by creative writing graduate students at the University of Montana in Missoula. In Issue 80, they’ve published an excerpt from Hisham Bustani’s novel The Perception of Meaning titled “Apocalypse Now.” Editor-in-chief Rachel Mindell talked about the magazine’s relationship to translated literature.

Who’s the Heretic Here?

Translator Gregor Schoeler notes that Abul ʿAla al-Maʿarri’s “The Epistle of Forgiveness” has been linked to Dante’s “Divine Comedy.” Yet al-Maʿarri’s description of the hereafter, unlike Dante’s, seems shot through with a strong sense of irony. What does al-Ma’arri mean by it? When is — and isn’t — he being ironic? Schoeler talks about the parallels between the “Epistle” and the “Divine Comedy” and why irony complicates the translation process.

On Translating ‘A’ishah al-Ba’uniyyah, Perhaps Arabic’s Most Prolific Premodern Woman Writer

Th. Emil Homerin, author of the recently-published The Principles of Sufism, has long been interested in the work of ‘A’ishah al-Ba’uniyyah, who is perhaps the most prolific and prominent woman who wrote in Arabic prior to the modern period. Homerin, a professor of religion and former chair of the Department of Religion & Classics at the University of Rochester, previously translated a collection of al-Ba’uniyyah’s poems as Emanations of Grace, and likens her work to that of the famous Persian poet, Jalal al-Din Rumi.

Humphrey Davies on Choosing a Book to Translate: It Must Deal ‘With Things that Matter’

Last month, the AUC Press “Book Alley” discussed “Black Magic” and “Secret Pleasures” with author Hamdy al-Gazzar and translator Humphrey Davies. A video of the event was recently posted on YouTube; al-Gazzar discusses his writing process and personal “red line,” and Davies talks about what sort of books interest him, and what sort of challenges translating presents.

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